Great Reward in Heaven
Sermon Text: Matthew 5:11-12
Sermon Theme: Being slandered on account of Jesus does not mean we’re miserable, but blessed and joyful.
Blessed are ye when men shall revile you,… These words are particularly directed to the disciples of Christ, and are designed to inform them, that they should not be exempted from reproach and persecution, and to animate and fortify them against it; and are prophetical of what they, and the first Christians particularly, were to endure for Christ’s sake. Men should “revile” them, speak very reproachfully of them, brand them with infamy, and load them with disgrace; and persecute you from place to place, by ill usage of all sorts; and shall say all manner of evil against you: the worst things they could think of and invent, and all of them; such as that they were seditious persons, enemies to the commonwealth, and the public good, guilty of sacrilege, incest, and murder but what would serve to relieve them under these heavy charges is, that they were “falsely” laid; there was not a word of truth in them; wherefore their own hearts would not reproach them; but all were the malicious lies of men, invented on purpose to bring them and Christianity into disgrace: and that they were brought against “them for Christ’s sake,” for his name’s sake, for the sake of his Gospel and interest: the treatment they meet with is on his account, and the same that he himself met with; the like reproaches fell on him, which will be all wiped off from him and them another day; when they will appear to be the blessed persons, and their revilers and persecutors the unhappy ones
Rejoice and be exceeding glad,… Because of the honor put upon them, the glory they bring to Christ and his cause, by cheerfully suffering for it; and because of the glory and happiness that shall follow upon their sufferings: for great is your reward in heaven; not of debt, but of grace; for there is no proportion or comparison between what the saints suffer for Christ, and the glory that shall be revealed in them by him; not in earth, but in heaven. Saints must not expect their reward here, but hereafter, when God himself will be their reward; he will be all in all; Christ and all his glory, glory and all the riches of it will be the reward of the inheritance, and which must needs be a “great” one. And the more to animate them to suffer with joyfulness, and to support them under all their reproaches and persecutions, it is added; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you; as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, and others; which shows, that what should befall them was no new and strange thing, but what had been the lot of the most eminent servants of God in former ages.
(From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)
- Do you take to heart the “persecution for the sake of Jesus” as a privileged honor that Jesus has chosen for you? Although the contempt of the world is not in itself desirable, yet it is blessed to tread in the footsteps of Jesus, to imitate his example and even to suffer for his sake (Philippians 1:29). For they said of Jesus that he was a Samaritan and had a devil (John 8:48); that he was mad (John 10:20); and thus they reviled and mocked him on the cross, (Matthew 27:39-44). But, being reviled, he reviled not again (1 Peter 2:23); and thus being reviled, we should bless (1 Corinthians 4:12).
- Has your seeking the Lord deepened over the years, so that, far from becoming more cynical, you try to take concrete steps to serve and honor God even when you are reviled, as our Master was? For we are to take the reviling with patience, and to remember that thousands before us have been treated in like manner. When thus reviled or persecuted, we are to be meek, patient, humble, not angry; not reviling again; but endeavoring to do good to our persecutors and slanderers (2 Timothy 2:24-25).
- When a storm hits your life, what is the first thing you usually do? Cry? Eat? Call a friend? Pray? Why do you think that is your first response? Some of us reach out to man. Others stuff the pain down with food or bury it in house work and office obligations. Instead of depending on God to be our source, we try to find a way to soothe ourselves and forget the pain. But, God wants to be the one that walks with you through all of life’s storms. So run to your loving Father to seek His comfort and strengthen in your time of need. For what a person does in the midst of a storm, when they have no strength to keep up a facade or be fake, reveals what is truly in their heart. Where they run in that time of need is a sign of where they really put their trust. “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).
- Why do we sometimes response to persecution and affliction by retreating and hiding from that conflict? To escape from the world is to escape responsibility. We belong to Christ, we are no longer of this world, but He has sent us into this world to serve just as He Himself came into this world to serve (John 17:14-18). His followers are “the salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16). For our salt to flavor the earth and our light to lighten the world we must be active in the world. The gospel is not given to be hidden but to enlighten.
- Are you understanding the state of the world as controlled by Satan? For the prince of the world, Satan, will never cease to fill his followers with rage, to carry on hostilities against the members of Christ. Above all, it is, as we may say, the ordinary lot of Christians to be hated by the majority of men: for the flesh cannot endure the doctrine of the Gospel; none can endure to have their vices reproved. By the words in the Beatitudes, Christ intended to comfort those who believe in him; that they may not lose courage, even though they see themselves to be detestable in the eyes of the world. For, as soon as we raise our minds to heaven, we there behold vast grounds of joy, which dispel sadness.
- As a Christian, are you restraining your heart and actions to not do things to offend others, to treat them harshly or unkindly, and to court reviling? In this way many have been convinced of the power and excellence of that religion which they were persecuting and reviling, and show how much the Christian, under the consciousness of innocence, can bear (1 Peter 3:13-18). They have seen that nothing else but Christianity could impart such patience and meekness to the persecuted.
- Is your faith strong enough in Christ to endure the cursing, no matter the degree of the malice? We know that the revilers of the world are persistent, relentless in persecution by word and deed, culminating in willful, malicious, lying imputations of the grossest sort, every conceivable calumny, lying—not merely in the sense that the statements are false, but in the sense of deliberately inventing the most improbable lies; their only excuse being that violent prejudice leads the revilers to think nothing too evil to be believed against the objects of their malice. The believer’s work is that of purifying and preserving and of illuminating; you must therefore allow your character as a disciple to appear, as appear it must if you are true to your position. There is a purpose in this, namely, that men may see your actions, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
- Jesus’ critics said of Him, “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners” (Matthew 11:19). If the world said that of the sinless Christ, what things can His followers expect to be called and accused of? Slander behind our backs is harder to take partly because it is harder to defend against than direct accusation. It has opportunity to spread and be believed before we have a chance to correct it. Much harm to our reputations can be done even before we are aware someone has slandered us. We have no surer evidence of the Lord’s blessing than to be cursed for His sake. It should not seriously bother us when men’s curses fall on the head that Christ has eternally blessed.
- Is it your understanding that your loyalty to God and His call upon your life become in turn the cause of further suffering? To be identified with Jesus and the kingdom is to be in “the way of righteousness.” For great is your reward, not of debt, but of grace; for our light and momentary afflictions are not worthy to be compared with an eternal and exceeding weight of glory; where there is no proportion, there can be no merit: especially, when it is given to us on the behalf of Christ to suffer (Philippians 1:29). For in spite of all, joy, exultation is possible—nay, inevitable. You are not only exhorted to it, but you cannot help being in this mood, if once you throw yourselves enthusiastically into the warfare of God.
- How do we influence today’s society with unpopular Christian values? Are far too many Christians choosing to stay silent about what they truly believe instead of standing up for Christ? Some Christians are scared that their radical beliefs will offend someone, or even turn them into a target for ridicule. So they just sit quietly and try to be politically correct. Many have even bought into the idea that, by being silent, Christians are somehow bringing glory to God by being meek or humble. But, looking at Jesus’ response to the money changers in the temple, being a meek Christian is not the same as being a weak Christian. Early on in your spiritual walk, it may be hard to tell the difference. But, as you experience Christian spiritual growth, you will learn to be bold for Jesus!
- What kind of persecution may come our way when we decide to live the beatitudes? We can expect to be called derogatory names, we will be ridiculed and false things will be said about us. Notice the reason for the persecution. It is not because we are rude or obnoxious. We are persecuted because of our association with Jesus. The prophets were also persecuted; their faithfulness during persecution can encourage us.
- What reward can compensate the believer for the cost of being a disciple of Jesus? For not every believer is rewarded in this life with the things of this life. But every believer is rewarded in this life with the comfort, strength, and joy of his indwelling Lord. He is also blessed with the assurance that no service or sacrifice for the Lord will be in vain. For Jesus’ words are more than a suggestion, we are commanded to be glad. Not to be glad when we suffer for Christ’s sake is to be untrusting and disobedient. The world can take away a great deal from God’s people, but it cannot take away their joy and their happiness. We know that nothing the world can do to us is permanent. When people attack us for Christ’s sake, they are really attacking Him (Galatians 6:17; Colossians 1:24). And their attacks can do us no more permanent damage than they can do Him. Even if the world takes from us every possession, every freedom, every comfort, every satisfaction of physical life, it can take nothing from our spiritual life, either now or throughout eternity. For in Christ we become kingdom citizens now and forever. No matter what the world does to us, it cannot affect our possession of Christ’s kingdom.
The following is from “Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture” 29 Vols:
FALSELY ON CHRIST’S ACCOUNT (By Chrysostom): But to keep you from supposing that being slandered of itself makes people blessed, he has added two qualifications: first, that it happens for Christ’s sake, and second, that what is said be false. Do not expect to be blessed if you are being reviled for something evil, and what is being said is true.
THE CONTEXT OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (By Chrysostom): Look then at the reward again: “for your reward is great in heaven.” And don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear the kingdom of heaven granted with every single Beatitude. For even if Jesus names the rewards differently, he still puts all of them in the kingdom of heaven. For in fact he says, “Those who mourn will be comforted, and those who show mercy will receive mercy, and those pure in heart will see God, and the peacemakers will be called sons of God.” In all these things the blessed One does nothing but hint at the kingdom of heaven. For people who enjoy these things will certainly reach the kingdom of heaven. So do not suppose that the reward of the kingdom of heaven belongs only to the poor in spirit. It also belongs to those who hunger for justice, and to the meek and to all these blessed others without exception. For he set his blessing upon all these things to keep you from expecting something belonging to this material world. For if one wore a prize or garland for things that are to be dissolved together with the present life, things that flit away faster than a shadow, would that one be blessed?
WEIGH EARTHLY DISTURBANCE AGAINST HEAVENLY GLORY (By Unknown author): Weigh earthly shame against heavenly glory, and see whether what you suffer on earth is not much lighter than what you expect in heaven. But perhaps you may say, “Who can be joyful when reviled? Who can not only endure being reviled but rejoice in it with a great soul?” The answer is, only one who does not delight in empty glory. One who desires what is in heaven does not fear reproaches on earth. He does not care about what people say about him but rather how God judges him. But one who rejoices in the praise of others and how much they praise him is saddened when he receives no praise. He feels sad at others’ reproaches. But a person who is not lifted up by others’ praise is not lowered by their reproach. Wherever any one seeks his own glory, just there he also fears reproach. A person who constantly seeks glory on earth constantly fears troubles on earth. But a person who seeks glory only with God fears no disturbance except for God’s judgment. A soldier endures the danger of war so long as he hopes for the spoils of victory. So how much more should you who are waiting for the reward of the heavenly kingdom have no fear of the world’s reproaches.
Instructions for saving audio file…
To save audio to your local disk, click on the SAVE button above, then use the right mouse button on the AUDIO (MP3) and finally click on Save Link As to specify the target directory.